Following a three-month-long renovation to add comfort and improve the acoustics of its main auditorium, Ottawa’s National Arts Centre (NAC)’s Southam Hall has re-opened.
The auditorium, which is home to the NAC Orchestra and other programs throughout the year, features new, wider seating throughout, replacing the original upholstered seats that have been in use since the complex opened in 1969.
Improvements also include removing the continuous rows of seating without aisle access. Now the orchestra seating is divided into three sections with the addition of two new aisles for greater accessibility. A fourth parterre section has been created at the rear and is separated by an aisle that crosses the length of the orchestra seating. These changes have reduced the hall’s capacity by 250 seats, down from a maximum of 2,331.
The hall’s acoustics have been improved thanks to new hardwood flooring and wood seat backs that will cause sound to bounce off the wood. The floors are coated with an oak veneer and have been coloured a slate grey.
“This is the first stage of renewal for Southam Hall as we continue to transform the entire National Arts Centre with a new atrium, marquee tower and entrance, new wings for audience and presentation events and create a transparent and public connection with the community at a high profile intersection in the heart of Ottawa,” said Jennifer Mallard, senior associate at Diamond Schmitt Architects, in a press release.
The next stage of renewal for the facility will update production facilities and add an orchestra shell. The expanded National Arts Centre is set to open on July 1st, 2017, Canada’s 150th anniversary.